Attorney General Alerts

    Gift Cards – What You Should Know


    December 7, 2016

    It is exciting to purchase that new toy a child in your life wants or give that perfect gift a relative needs, but sometimes it can be difficult to settle on the right gift. Many Arkansans turn to gift cards as the perfect item for the Christmas season, and it is important to know that gift card recipients have certain protections that have been put in place by both the federal government and the State of Arkansas.

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to ensure gift card recipients know the protections that are currently in place to guard them from being taken advantage of and to ensure they are able to use the gift card for its intended purpose.

    “Gift cards are popular because they allow recipients to get exactly what they want from a retailer or restaurant,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important for all Arkansans to know and understand the protections they are granted when they receive a gift card this holiday season.”

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of State and federal protections under State law and federal rules.

    • A gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card. If the expiration dates listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.
    • Inactivity fees can be charged only when a card has not been used for at least one year.
    • The expiration date must be clearly disclosed on the card.
    • Fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging.

    The Arkansas Fair Gift Card Act applies not only to gift cards but also gift certificates and prepaid cards but does not apply to loyalty reward program gift cards. The federal rules only apply to the plastic swipe cards, which usually contain a magnetic strip and look similar to a credit or debit card.

    If there is a problem with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card. If the problem cannot be resolved at that level, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office or the Federal Trade Commission.

    For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

    Contact Us
    Sign Up For Consumer Alerts